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Top 3 Koay Teow Th’ng spots you shouldn’t miss in Penang

Koay Teow Th'ng, or simple noodles in clear soup, is the unsung culinary dish of Malaysia, or even South East Asia. Zac Teo eats his way around the most gastronomically in-demand dish (bar some variations in different countries) in Penang

Being a young boy growing up in Penang, I've to admit that I really love those culinary dishes that offer an explosion of taste, leaning towards a saltier taste and complexly prepared; especially those with rice dishes. However, there are always days that I'm down with a little cold or fever, or just craving for something simple yet warm to fill my tummy - and a bowl of simple Koay Teow Th'ng, or loosely translated to noodle soup, never fails to cheer me up.

Piping hot bowl of Koay Teow Th'ng in Cecil Street Market, Penang. Photograph: Zac Teo/

Koay Teow, in the Hokkien dialect, is a type of rice noodle while Th'ng is Hokkien for soup. When you add them up together, it myriads into Noodle Soup, and the variation of noodles may be changed to yellow noodles, vermicelli or even Cintan noodles, however locals just call the dish Koay Teow Th'ng for simplicity. Locals usually make their orders by defining the noodle type, and there's even a good mix if you know what you're into!

This fare consist of noodles and clear soup topped with simple ingredients and condiments of light soy sauce with sliced chili for dipping. Over the evolution of time, the aforementioned simple ingredients have grown to what we can call complex ingredients, with certain hawker stalls dishing out unique toppings such as duck meat, coagulated blood or even meat cakes. Certainly very creative these Penangites are, and I'm really excited to see the next stepping in evolution for this dish. Who knows what will they come up with next?

As a Penangite, its my pleasure to present to you a list of the top three Koay Teow Th'ng spots around Penang that you should pay a visit to, in my opinion.

1. Ah Soon Coffee Shop

Perhaps not the most famous of places that comes to mind when naming Koay Teow Th'ng in Penang, this stall in Ah Soon Coffee Shop has been dishing out excellent noodles for a while now. Their noodles are submerged in a ladle full of refreshingly light chicken soup and topped with a drizzle of meat slice, fish cake slice and assorted fish balls. Garnished with lettuce and garlic oil, the excellent component of this place would be the soup and home-made fishballs.

Ah Soon Cafe is found at the enclaves of Tanjung Bungah, and its on Jalan Sungei Kelian, 11200 Penang. The shop owner can be contacted at 012 455 0382, while the opening hours are from 11:00am until 7:30pm. Closed on Tuesdays.

2. Lum Lai Stall at Cecil Street Market

I've covered this stall briefly in my article about Cecil Street Market previously, however here's an in-depth write up about this particular stall there. The name of  Lum Lai Duck Meat Koay Teow Th'ng is self-explanatory at best - the special ingredient to prepare the noodles is duck meat. The noodles comes in a clear soup full of pungent flavours of duck and pork, and garnished with spring onions.

Lum lai is located inside the Cecil Street Market (40, Cecil Street, 10300 Penang). The market is opened from 7.30am onwards daily.

3. Clarke Street

Dive deep into the heritage area of Georgetown and make your way to Clarke Street to hunt for this place. Located in between both Hutton Lane and Argyll Road, this stall plants itself in a small alley in the folds of these historic streets for over three decades. Having been passed down for generations, this place would definitely be in the list of places that locals flock to for their Koay Teow Th'ng fix. The soup is delicately prepared with chicken to create a heart broth, and do for their specialty side dish of poached chicken meat and innards laid on a bed of crunchy bean sprouts.

This stall is located at Clarke Street, 10050 Penang and it is opened from 7:00am onwards until slightly after lunch, and it is closed on Tuesdays.
Zac Teo

Zac Teo

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